Proverbs 12:21

No Evil Shall Happen

21 There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.


1. Is this proverb true? Is it always true?

2. Is it always true that no evil happens to the just?

a. Was it true for Steven? Paul? Jeremiah? David?

b. Was it true for those mentioned in Heb. 11:36-38?

3. If we take this proverb at face value, I’m sure we can all think of situations where it was in fact NOT true!

a. And doesn’t this create all kinds of ethical and spiritual problems for us?

b. How could this Hebrew king, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit write something that isn’t true… or is only true some of the time?

4. We’ve mentioned this many times so far in our study of Proverbs—but it bears repeating. This is a PROVERB… not a prophecy or an epistle!

a. A proverb is a crystallized truth…it is a general statement of truth…

b. Proverbs were never intended to cover all the bases…they were never intended to be applied in an absolute sense.

c. Proverbs were never intended to cover absolutely every situation.

d. Proverbs paints pictures for us—with a very wide brush… one stroke.

e. Ex: A stitch in time saves nine. Does it always? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Is it always?

f. Proverbs—whether inspired or uninspired—are a special kind of literature… and they need to be understood for what they are—proverbs! A generality. It is an observation from life of things that usually occur…

g. Before we even look at what Solomon writes, it is good to know HOW he wrote… what type of literature we are looking at: a proverb!

21a There shall no evil happen to the just

1. One might look at this statement—and spend time going through the Scriptures seeking to disprove it. And many examples could be found which SEEM to disprove it.

2. However, let’s look at what Solomon wrote.

a. His over all point is that the wicked are always falling into mischief… but those who are just or righteous don’t fall into such mischief. No evil happens to them.

b. (Painting with a broad brush) he says that usually, when you do what is right and just—you avoid trouble!

3. Just here means right, correct, lawful.

a. The person Solomon is describing is the one who does things right.

b. He lives a lawful life… he obeys the law.

c. He follows orders. He does what he’s supposed to do.

d. He is fair… just… he treats people fairly and justly.

e. He walks the narrow pathway.

f. He does everything the right way.

4. Evil here is used in the sense of calamity… not a moral evil.

a. The term means: trouble; suffering; sorrow; affliction; tragedy.

b. Solomon is saying that just men avoid a lot of trouble in life; a lot of sorrow and grief; they avoid a lot of affliction and suffering.

c. Doing what’s right and fair and just — is GOOD for you!

5. Solomon’s point is that when you do things right, you avoid a lot of trouble!

a. This is the nugget of truth being expressed in this part of the proverb.

b. This truth is echoed in several other proverbs as well.
• Prov. 11:8 – The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
• Prov. 12:13 – the just shall come out of trouble.
• While we might all think of some exceptions, this IS truth crystallized… it is truth generalized… this is what generally happens.

6. Application to real life: do things right and you won’t get into trouble.

a. If you put up the staging properly, you won’t have an accident. (If you skimp and don’t put up all the braces—then you might fall into mischief!)

b. If you do your homework and study, you will probably do well on the test! (If you skimp and take short cuts—you may not do so well.)

c. If you obey the law, you can avoid a lot of trouble.
• If some of your friends decide to go out drinking and you know it’s not right and choose to go to the teen activity at the church instead—and they wrap their car around a phone pole and 4 of them die… think of this proverb! It will ring true to you!
• If your friends want you to steal some stereo equipment, and you say no because you want to be just or lawful, and they get arrested—remember this proverb. Evil or trouble doesn’t befall those who do things right!

d. If you do things right at the factory, and others are cutting corners and are not putting the extra wire on the boards, when it is discovered and mischief befalls them and you are given a promotion—think of this proverb. It will ring true!

e. If you are just—and treat others justly and fairly, and as a result are respected…and the other guy treats people unfairly… when trouble arises, you will have lots of friends and support. He won’t. Think of this proverb.

7. God has also given us a few supernatural examples of how He honors this principle.

a. Dan. 6:23-24 – Daniel was a just man. He did that which was right. NO evil befell Daniel. But the evil presidents DID fall into mischief!

b. Esther 7:9-10 – Mordecai was a just man. He was doing that which was right… and no evil happened to him. But the wicked Haman? He sure fell into mischief. He was hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai!

21b But the wicked shall be filled with mischief.

1. In contrast to the just or the righteous who (because of their righteousness) escape trouble, the wicked do not escape.

• Once again—this too is a proverb. You may know some people who did wicked things and never got caught. Well—they may have escaped on earth—but none will escape facing God!

2. But even on earth—this principle holds. It is a generality of truth. This is what generally happens: those who are wicked fall into trouble.
• Mischief: evil; distress; misery; injury; calamity.
• Wicked: criminal; guilty one; one guilty of crime;—this is the person who does NOT do things right. He breaks the rules… He violates the law… he doesn’t mind lying or cheating…

3. To this person, Solomon says, will befall much mischief—injury, trouble, calamity, and distress.

a. He will not only face trouble, but will be FILLED with it!

b. The one who keeps on committing crimes… who keeps on breaking the rules… who keeps on cheating—will also keep on falling into trouble.

c. Prov. 1:30-31 – the one who does NOT do things right… he does NOT listen to God’s wisdom… will be FILLED with his own devices: mischief! The mischief he got into will come back to haunt him.

d. Prov. 14:14 – the backslider will be FILLED with his own ways.

e. Prov. 13:21 – evil pursues sinners!
• Bad things happen to those who transgress the law…those who don’t do things right.
• You may know of some exceptions… BUT!
• This is what generally happens!
• Folks who don’t do things right lead their whole lives with a dark cloud following them… the dark cloud of their own making!
• Law-abiding citizens usually lead a quiet and peaceable life. But criminals and lawbreakers bring trouble upon their own heads and upon their households.
• There might be some exceptions—but you can’t get around the logic… or the wisdom of Solomon’s words.